Cantonese Souvenir Album.

SCHOOL OF TINGQUA. attributed (1838)


Please contact us in advance if you would like to view this book at our Curzon Street shop.


A souvenir album with 53 fine original watercolours, including 14 portraits of officials, officers and their respective wives, 18 of flowers, insects and birds, 13 ships, and 8 full-page landscapes, each titled in Chinese in the lower margin. Small 8vo. measuring 10.5x16.8cm. Contemporary black roan embossed with elaborate decoration of putti playing a harp, some restoration and repairs. Various western papers incl. coloured ones, some with embossed decoration. Preserved in custom-made cloth drop-back box. Title-page with owner's dedication 'Eleanor Gouldesbrough from her Bro[ther] William, Canton, May 21.1838'. Canton, 

The content and the style of paintings are very close to the work of Tingqua (circa 1809-1870), one of the foremost artists working in Canton at the time. He specialised in colourful gouache- and watercolour paintings catering largely to merchants from Europe and America who visited Canton. All of the portraits are entitled 'yi pin', 'er pin', 'san pin' (first rank, second rank, third rank, etc.) down to the seventh rank, showing the emperor, officers and officials (both Chinese and Manchu) followed by their respective wives on separate plates. Views include: 'The French, Dutch, British and US factories at Canton', the 'Whampoa Anchorage', 'Macao Waterfront', and the 'fortifications at the Bogue (humen)' - which seven years later was the location of intense fighting during the Opium War. Other landscapes featuring fishermen and farmers are simply entitled 'shanshui' (lit. mountains&water). The boats show a variety of Chinese transport, official, military, and fishing junks as well as one British sailing boat. This album provides a colourful and comprehensive view of the people, scenery and wildlife that a Western trader would have encountered during his time in Southern China. What makes this album particularly interesting is the fact that it is dated 1838, four years prior to the cession of Hong Kong island. 

Provenance: Purchased or commissioned by William Bemrose (1792-1875) who had established a printing business in Derby in 1827. His sister Eleanor was married to John Gouldesbrough in ?. 

Stock Code: 233159

close zoom-in zoom-out close zoom